Ever since St. John the Divine, people have had a tendency to think that the Almighty works in thousand-year increments. Just before the end of the first millennium, they had plenty to confirm their suspicions. In the year 993, Mount Vesuvius erupted violently. And, Burgundian monk Raoul Glaber related, “at that time, nearly all the cities of Gaul and Italy were devastated by fire”; “in Italy and Gaul were seen to die all the most eminent prelates, dukes and counts.” By 997, “an enormous dragon, coming out of the North and reaching the South, throwing off sparks” appeared in the skies, and “a severe famine which lasted for five years, covered all the Roman world” so that “it was feared almost the whole human race would be eliminated.” Men believed, with the fifth-century St. Eucherius of Lyons, that “as old men are borne down with ills, so we see the world pullulating with misery: famine,...

 
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